The Artificial Woman (working title) is based on the tempestuous, nearly three year relationship between Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) and Alma Mahler (1879-1964) a composer and widow of composer Gustav Mahler, and the break up that inspired the obsessed Kokoschka to commission an artist to create a life-sized Alma “doll”.
Alma and Oskar met in 1912, two years before the first World War. Kokoschka, 26 years old, an extravagantly talented and driven artist with a reputation as an enfant terrible, fell wildly in love with Alma at first sight. Still wearing mourning veils and seven years older than Kokoschka, Mahler was cultured, magnetic, intelligent, artistic, headstrong and sexually powerful. Our take on their entanglement and its aftermath involves gender roles, art making, obsession and objectification, the Pygmalion myth, women as “muses”, competing versions of a narrative, and the often vexing nexus of love and art.